Monday, September 29, 2008

The Timeline of the McCain economic campaign meltdown

After thinking about the last 2 weeks, I decided to make a timeline of John McCain, Man of Action, regarding the financial crisis.

September 15, 2008

John McCain: The fundamentals of the economy are strong

Stock market drops 500 points

Sept 16, 2008

McCain: We're hurting, and the fundamentals of the economy are - our workers. So if you criticize my comments about the fundamentals of the economy being strong, your insulting the American workers.

Mccain: We shouldn't bail out AIG

September 17, 2008

McCain: Bailing out AIG was a good idea.

September 18, 2008

McCain: I'd fire SEC chief Cox. Turns out the President doesn't have that authority.

September 20, 2008

Secretary of the Treasury Paulson submits his plan. It is 3 pages long, and asks for no oversight into the Treasury for the bailout.

September 22, 2008

Senate Banking hearing with Paulson about the bailout bill.

September 23, 2008

Mccain: I haven't read the Paulson plan.

McCain: We need a better regulatory system.

September 24, 2008

McCain suspends campaign - 8 days after "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" statement, 4 days after Paulson submits his plan.

McCain says he won't campaign until the issue is "resolved".

McCain cancels David Letterman show to "go to Washington and work on the bailout"

But he's meeting with Katie Couric instead. Letterman catches him doing it.

September 25, 2008

Mccain speaks at the Clinton global initiative.

Evening: McCain finally makes it to the white house for the meetings. According to some, he didn't say much.

This is what McCain and the House Republicans submitted - cut capital gains, less regulation of Wall Street market transactions.

September 26, 2008

McCain agrees to go to debate after all. Bailout bill negotiations still going on, unresolved.

September 27, 2008

McCain monitors bailout hearings from his office.

September 28, 2008

While senators and congressmen worked, McCain was at a 4 star restaurant.

Barack Obama scares me

I had a conversation with a friend - he's conservative, but we're good.

He made a comment the other day that "I'm scared of what will happen if Barack Obama becomes president."

At first I replied glibly, saying "Oh, I know - he's a Manchurian Muslim who's going to nuke the country, right?"

"No, I'm serious," my friend said. "I mean, he's so liberal!"

This is when I got serious. "You know, I'm afraid of him becoming President as well."

My friend gave me "the look" - he knew something was coming. "Oh? Why?"

"I'm afraid that he'll ignore reports that terrorists will attack the country, and then we'll lose thousands of people to an attack while he's sitting around, unsure what to do while he reads a book with children. Then, he'll decide to launch an attack on a country who had nothing to do with the original terrorist attack on trumped on charges. Then ignore the country where the terrorists actually live and let the terrorists escape to another state.

"After that, I'm afraid that there will be a huge natural disaster, like a hurricane, and Obama will neglect to do anything about it until days later. All the while, he'll out undercover CIA agents, say he'll fire those responsible, then pardon those responsible. I'm afraid he'll put people in a gulag, torture them, then deny it. I'm afraid that if Obama is elected president, he'll hire one sycophant after another more interested in their colleagues pocket book than protecting the nation from tainted food.

"And while Obama is president, I'm terrified that he'll allow the markets to run amok, ignore evidence of a growing financial crisis, tell us everything is fine, then when the economy explodes ask for almost a trillion dollars with no oversight at all, with the line of 'trust me - I know how to fix it.'"

My friend told me I wasn't being fair. I told him neither had Bush to the rest of the country - and that if was "afraid" of a "liberal Obama president", he should wonder just what he could do worse than Bush had already done.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My take on the bailout bill

If you've been following my Twitter feed, I've spent a little time eyeballing the Bailout bill.

And it's not perfect. I'm still not seeing any hard regulations, but this bill isn't about that. But compared to that piece of crap Paulson brought in a week ago, this is a pretty decent bill. It has provisions to make sure taxpayers get their money back (by laying fines on companies after 5 years if we haven't seen a profit). It cuts out golden parachutes for executives who drive their companies into the ground. It has oversight (and, in an amusing note, I noticed it states very clearly that the Judiciary branch has the ability to review cases about Treasury actions, something Paulson wanted to avoid).

There's still the underlying problem of what went wrong: security credit swaps and a derivatives market that's gotten out of hand. I'm not an economist, and I have just enough knowledge through my own reading and listening to NPR that tells me they are some bad mojo. (Check out the show The Giant Pool of Money for more info.)

This bill is the start. It will help the problem now - but people have to stay angry. We've been hurt bad. By a war that's wasted money and American lives in Iraq. With an administration bound to show that government was the problem - and then used Katrina to prove it. A philosophy that says "Just let the rich do what they want, and they're droppings will make us all happy and wealthy!"

We need a return to the regulation systems that we put in after the Great Depression, that lets business compete, but not get so powerful that we can't control it. We shouldn't lose focus now just because we might avert a crisis - and there's no guarantee that we're out of the woods.

It's going to be a rough 3-4 years, folks. I think we're going to get through it all right - but we have to be ready to make some changes in our market system to restore control while allowing it room to grow and prosper.

Time to take back our government people. Before it happens again.

I just saw the House Republican response to the Bailout Bill

For over two hours, House Republicans were behind closed doors discussing the bailout bill. I just caught the press conference when they came out.

It looks like this is still a hard sell. Maybe its the insurance issue that the House Republicans want - this is basically an FDIC like system for these "bad assets", instead of just buying up the assets in exchange for stock and cutting CEO "golden parachutes".

But more than anything else, I think the #1 question was: what do I tell the people in my districts? When they hear that we spent $700 billion to bail out Wall Street while family farms fail, while Republicans fight S-CHIP and health care, while we told people "cut taxes for the wealthy, and they'll spread it around" - and now people make less than they did 8 years ago, home values are falling, college is harder to afford.

That's the big issue facing House Republicans when they go home. How do I give them a reason to vote for me, after what a Republican Senate, Republican House, Republican President, and conservative Supreme Court gave the nation: a big empty wallet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chicken Little to the rescue

By now, you may have heard that McCain wants to "postpone the debates" because of the "9-11 economic crisis hitting the economy."

Just to give you an idea of how much they're hyping this up, I actually heard on the Chris Matthews show just now a McCain campaign spokesperson explaining something akin to "this is big, because we're talking about people's paychecks not being cut, fire and brimestone from the sky! Run for terror!"

And - introduce the Republican playbook since 9-11: fear. Run for the hills. Unless McCain goes to Washington, the *you won't get paid*. Unless we stop the campaign right now - because heaven knows a President can't walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, and McCain evidently can't use a phone - then we're all going to plummit into depression.

Allow me to say: bullshit.


This is McCain realizing he's down in the polls, and he has to look like he's doing "something". Congress might have a solution on Friday, so he's going to fly in just when its time to vote, take credit, then rush off while we pay $700 billion to Wall Street - and of course we have to HURRY AND RUN OH MY GOD BEFORE IT ALL FALLS APART DON'T LOOK AT THE BILL JUST SIGN IT SIGN IT!

So again - bullshit on you, McCain. You're not President. You're just a Senator right now, and for you to run away from the debate shows you to be a coward as well.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fast track Treasury plan? Put on the breaks

The mantra of the morning is "put partisan politics aside while the markets are melting. We have to save the economy before it all crashes apart!"

I'm looking at the financial deals, folks - and we need to put the breaks on this, and fast.

"Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein puts forth the idea that there is a sector of the market that waits for emergency situations - like this one. Once the crisis hits, these groups with pre-made plans come in and do the "shock", which is usually:

* Less regulation on markets
* Decreased labor powers
* Government tax dollars used to finance private industry without any payback (ie: private industry getting paid the job that government agencies did, only now without any oversight)

Folks, we're seeing the Shock Doctrine *right fucking now* in place.

This is part of the Treasury bailout plan that's being floated about, and it's got this line:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

What. The. FUCK.

Bernanke and Paulson will be given complete and utter control *without any oversight allowed at all*. What if he wants to buy up some bad debt for $300 million when it's worth $100, then turn around and sell it back from the same people he bought it from for $100, then turn around and buy it again for $300 million?

Nobody could say boo.

And it's clear that the Treasury is planning on buying assets "above current market value". While the real estate market is still falling - and expected to fall another 10-15% over the next two years (something I planned on accepting when I bought my new house) - the Treasury gets to buy these assets *now* before they hit rock bottom.

Unlike the moves in the 1930's, which bought up bad assets at the bottom of the market, this would allow financial institutions to make a 10-15% profit off of their bad decisions. They sell it off now for "above market value", wait 2 years for the final lower value to kick in, then buy it back from the government - boom, instant profit, taxpayers just paid for them to make money after they screwed it all up.

No. No way. This bill needs to have the breaks put off on it. We need a bill that:

1. Enforces regulation on the credit market and financial markets
2. Bail out institutions to ensure the accounts are solvent (checking, savings, CD's).
3. Preferred stock for any institution that is bailed out becomes worthless - this means that the stock board and upper echelons are the losers, while the common stock (which is usually owned by other banks) don't get blown away.
4. Bailed out companies get no dividends - I don't want to see people getting richer off of a bailout.
5. All bailed out companies get canceled golden parachutes - board members don't get millions for being fired. They get their last paycheck, and they're gone.
6. Something that Jim Cramer said that I agree with: let the government buy up "bad" mortgages for $0.20 on the dollar - ie, the ones that are being foreclosed upon right now. This at least gives banks something for their bad loan, it prevents millions from being homeless (should be offered only to those with 1 home - 2nd and up don't get rescued). Hold those mortgages for 2 years, give resident current value mortgage slightly increased rates, if they don't accept, then it's on the market.

I want to talk about #6 the most. This I believe is the best solution to the real estate issue. Instead of millions of homes being on the market without buyers, and millions of people being kicked out of their homes, #6 gives a chance to everyone.

Banks get *some* money. Not much, but they get some pain for their bad loan. People get a home, but this isn't a freebe - government is coming back in 2 years to make them pay, and if they don't, then they lose the house permanently this time. Government actually gets to make a profit - remember, they bought the mortgages at 20% of the value, then sell back at current market value.

Here's the money breakdown:

If a house has a mortgage of $200,000 and is being foreclosed, the government buys it for $40,000. Foreclosure delayed for 2 years. 2 years later, the house may be actually worth $150,000. Original owner is now saddled with a lower debt - they don't get to walk away from it. But at least they get a shot. If they don't take it, they're out, place is sold.

There may need to be other clauses, like "if resident causes harm to residence while living in it the government can take it out of their paycheck or something". But this gives pain to everybody - especially the banks to screwed up in the first place.

Either way, the current Treasury bill can't be allowed to pass in its current form. Its a Shock Doctrine bill - and the taxpayers will be stuck with the tab.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Kindergarteners, Sex, and Dispelling Stupid

I keep seeing "Obama totally wanted to teach sex ed to 5 and 6 year olds - read the bill yourself and see its true, libtards!"

So I did. The bill can be seen here:

Full Text of SB0099.

Let's look at the bill:

Each class or course in comprehensive sex
14 education offered in any of grades K 6 through 12 shall
15 include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted
16 infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread
17 of HIV AIDS.

Now, let's be very specific - "each class *in comprehensive sex education* shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases".

In other words: "if the class is on comprehensive sex education", then "it shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases."

It's an if-then system. If you teach *comprehensive* sex education in a class, then you must include how to prevent HIV/AIDS. The other sets in the beginning of the bill read the same way: if you teach sex education, then you must say that abstinence is an effective method of preventing the above.

Look at Section 2: "All sex education courses THAT" (emphasis added), then it goes on to say what they will do. And what's under section 2, line 12?

(2) All (1) course material and instruction shall be age and developmentally appropriate.

So now we continue our "if-then" clause. *If* you teach a sex education class, *then* it must be age and developmentally appropriate. *If* the class is decided to teach comprehensive sex education, *then* you will include HIV prevention and other things.

If you decide *not* to do "comprehensive sex education", there are other things that are covered - including teaching students not to exploit each other or how to avoid a predator.

So I'm sorry - but to anyone who makes laws, or is a lawyer, this bill is pretty clear. There are age appropriate things that are up to the districts to decide what that means. If they teach sex ed, then these are the rules they must follow in their teaching.

Your claim that "OMG this bill totally instructs teacher to teach sex to 5 year olds" falls apart. This bill gives a list of things that can be taught to children, including:

* HIV prevention
* sexual harrassment prevention
* abstinence is best
* how to avoid predators
* how to not be a predator

Any teacher would go down the list and go "OK, I'm a 1st grade teacher. Well, I don't need to worry about HIV prevention. Or abstinence. Hm - how to avoid predators, that's *age appropriate*."

Hopefully I've broken this down enough so people won't make that inaccurate claim again.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Now we know why Palin opposed the rape kits

The question has been - why did Palin want to fire Police Chief Monegan. According to the Palin campaign, it wasn't because he wouldn't fire Trooper Wooten - but because of this:

The McCain campaign says it can prove Monegan was fired in July because of insubordination on budget issues
The "last straw," the campaign said, was a trip Monegan planned to Washington in July to seek federal money for investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases.

In a July 7 e-mail, John Katz, the governor's special counsel, noted two problems with the trip: the governor hadn't agreed the money should be sought, and the request "is out of sequence with our other appropriations requests and could put a strain on the evolving relationship between the Governor and Sen. Stevens."

Wait - they fired Monegan because he requested an earmark for rape kits in Alaska? But why would they be so upset about it?

Evidently - because your standard rape kit contains not just swabs, and an STD detection kit but also - emergency contraception.

Remember, Palin opposes "abortion" (which, in the case of emergency contraception, prevents the egg from even being fertilized) - even in the case of rape and incest. Which is why she was willing to oppose the state paying rape kits - all because they contained emergency contraception.

I seriously can't think of anything worse. Here's someone who's been victimized, and you don't want to pay for the rape kit because her egg might not be fertilized. What is wrong with these people?

The details are at Daily Kos.

Is hacking sexist?

Evidently, if you're an idiot, it may be.

Oh look - an idiot!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The best post I've seen about what's happened in the economy

Lucid, educated, and spot on:

Commentary: How to prevent the next Wall Street crisis by Joseph Stiglitz

I may have to go get his book while I'm out today.

What should be done with AIG?

If you've been watching the news, you likely know that AIG has been bailed out - the US government now owns 80% of AIG in exchange for a loan for $85 billion.

My coworkers and I were discussing what to do. I originally thought it should be treated like an anti-trust case - break it up, make it smaller (whether by region or performance).

One coworker had an idea: health insurance.

And then it hit me.

Health insurance.

Start selling off all non health insurance divisions. Announce that AIG will now be the official health insurance provider for the United States citizens. No citizen can be turned away from coverage. Rates offered to the majority of the public, or banished if the person can prove they don't meet a minimum income.

You go to the emergency room, you visit the doctor - you're now covered under AIG. Granted, there will have to be changes, commitments of X amount of tax dollars going to pay for it.

But this could be the start of the US universal health care system. Everything's in place - and the American People now own 80% of this company.

Maybe it's time we told it what its new business is - serving *us*.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Mortgage application bullshit meter rising

I was asked to submit a letter why we decided to rent out the house we're living in while we waited for our mortgage application on the same house to be completed.

I'm thinking about sending this in:

1.My family doesn't like living in a cardboard box while we were waiting for the mortgage approval to be completed. And since camping out in the front lawn chasing away other prospective buyers was ruled out, renting the location until the funds were approved seemed the best option.

Does snark work with mortgage companies stupid questions?

Saturday, September 06, 2008